When most people think of college, they imagine a new found freedom and a fresh start to the beginning of their adult lives. This is how it should be, but poor decisions about safe sex get in the way. Pregnant is the last word on any college students mind, but when mishaps are made it becomes the first.

Issues, such as unplanned pregnancies for young women, have been quite prevalent in the African American community for quite some time now. We, usually, like to think of this happening in low-income housing areas or densely populated cities, but things like this are happening on college campuses, as well. In college, we are, all, trying to move forward in life academically and emotionally and becoming pregnant can, definitely, lead to this process becoming stagnant.

The truth is, no one wants to be a statistic. We do not want to add to the stereotypes, but because life is full of surprises, no one can guarantee that this kind of thing will not happen to them. It is imperative that when one is faced with something like this that they make the proper choices, not only for their lives, but for the child’s, as well.

If one chooses to carry the baby full term, school is usually put on the back burner. Yes, the child should be the first priority, but the education that you started should not be, completely, given up. Some may think this sounds a bit selfish, when actually, it is the complete opposite. Finishing your degree could, possibly, be the best thing for the mother and the child. It reduces the risks of them having to start off with a minimum wage job and insufficient housing. With the mother making more money, there are many more possibilities for a better life.

In reality, this is an extremely hard thing to do. It is, quite, difficult to handle school and juggle with the changes in your body at the same time. That is why some decide to take the easy way out. Moving back home does have its advantages, like the security and support of family and friends, as well as, a familiar environment that is easy to fall into. The problem is, we fall in and get too comfortable there. Are we willing to throw away our dreams just for a bit of security?

A pregnancy does not justify dropping out of school for good. It is understandable to take time off, but there is also the future to think about. Going back to university life may be hard for some young parents, but there are other options. There are a number of local community colleges in every state. Young parents can live at home while not abandoning their studies. The community college environment also provides small class room sizes and a higher chance of one-on-one time with the professor. If that does not work, there is also the option of online college. If parents cannot seem to juggle the kids-work-school triad, then online school would be a good option. It may be easier for some to do schoolwork in the comfort of their own home, rather than, an actual classroom. Online school can also be flexible to fit almost anyone’s schedule. Even with a child, there are possibilities for continuing an education without having to go at the university level.

The social realm is also a big part of college that may be put on hold. Hanging out with friends, going to the movies, and partying are big aspects of the college environment, and some pregnant students may wonder what their friends will think of them when they find out. They may think that the “been around the block” stigma is in the back of everyone’s mind and this causes self-consciousness. Everyone needs good friends, especially, when they have such a huge issue to deal with. With the proper help and support, the journey will be just a bit easier and relieve some stress.

As African American college students, we want to stand up and do something with our lives. We want to make our parents proud and pave the way for future generations. An unplanned pregnancy will not make one a failure. If anything, people will look up to those who did not just give up on their dreams. Working through an unplanned pregnancy will inspire others, who are going through the same thing, to continue their education and do the best for their child and themselves.